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Air Force

Commander of Air Force
Brigadier General Valeri Saar, CV
Tel +372 717 1602
Fax +372 717 1608

Air Force insignia

Estonian Air Force has long and fascinating history. The roots of the current organization go back to the 21 November 1918 when the Commander of Engineering Battalion Voldemar Victor Riiberg assigned August Roos to organize the flight unit. The Independence War gave great impulses to the development of the young Air Force.

Estonian Air Force had more than 130 modern aircraft in the middle of 1930s. The organization consisted then the Naval Aviation Group, Flight School, Air Base, Air Defence Artillery Group. Estonian engineers designed and constructed the fighter aircrafts, which were with outstanding performance.

Estonian Air Force was re-established at 16. December 1991. The main goals were to gain the control over Estonian airspace and air defence of strategic objects. The Air force consist of three units today; the Air Force Staff, the Air Force Base, and the Air Surveillance Wing.

The Air Force has four main goals to accomplish for medium term;

    Air Surveillance has significant impact to the enhancement of the general flight safety.
  • To establish an air surveillance capability, and based on that , to begin the development of a national air defence system. To establish an air defence command and control capability.
  • To build up Ämari airfield as a prospective main NATO interoperable airfield and part of host nation support in Estonia.
  • To establish an Air Force communication and information system, which is interoperable with relevant NATO Integrated Extended Air Defence System NATIENADS. To develop a data exchange systems in the Air Force.
  • To prepare a rotary wing component of the Air Force

The Air Force role in accomplishing the Defence Policy

The Estonian Air Force needs to reduce the political, military, economical, social, environmental and psychological threats. The entire civilized world experienced the reality of increased terrorist threats during the last year. The Air Force has important role in enhancing flight safety in Estonian airspace.

One of the main goals of the Air Force is to build up an air surveillance system, which will be the cornerstone of the air traffic safety and airspace control. The second priority is the development of the Host Nation Support capabilities for air operations with further implementation of crucial peacetime Air Defence capability - Air Policing.

One important milestone will be the development of the air surveillance system to the level, which allows close cooperation with the NATO air defence system. The purpose of Ämari Air Base is to work together with NATO and partner nations air forces and provide the standardized airfield and aircraft services to provide the Host Nation Services.

In its nature, the Ämari airfield maintenance, aircraft support, air navigation services and air traffic control need to be updated to the NATO standards to provide high level of services and guarantee the required flight safety level.

The Estonian Air Force co-operation goals with NATO

Estonian Annual National Plan and partnership goals determine the most prioritized co-operation areas for nearest years. The most important of them are;

· To establish air surveillance capability, and based on that, to begin the development of a national air defence system. To establish an air defence command and control capability
· Installation of identification systems, which are interoperable with NATO equipment
· The upgrade of navigation and communication equipment
· Establishing the required level for Ämari airfield operations and infrastructure
· To provide the aircraft ground services according the required international standards

For Air Surveillance system, the installation of new long-range primary radar TPS-117 will help to reach qualitatively new level of operational capabilities. After connecting the new radar to the network, the identification of all aircraft, including those, which are not eagerly willing to co-operate with air traffic navigation services, will be remarkably easier. It will be huge step towards enhancement of air traffic safety and developing the international co-operation in air surveillance field as well as meet the terms of the obligations taken with international treaties.

The Air Force participation in the international exercises

Estonian Air Force officers and NCO's are been participating on various international exercises. On other hand, Estonia hosted international exercise Baltic Challenge with more than three thousand participants on 1997. During this exercise, which was conducted to train humanitarian operations, involved the aeromedical fights and paratroop training in the Ämari Air Base.
Air Force personnel have been participating in numerous international exercises since 1995. Estonian Air Force personnel has actively participated in Cooperative Zenith, Cooperative Banners, Cooperative Automation, Strong Resolve, Cooperative Support and MEDCEUR exercises. The Estonian Air Force participated with one aircraft and with larger crew than usual on exercises Cooperative Bear 1999 in Poland and Baltic Link 2000.

There has been close co-operation with Denmark, Finland, Sweden and the US Air Forces in recent years. Estonian Air Force has some form of co-operation with twenty different countries. The supporting relations with different domestic co-operation partners will give great assistance for the Air Force related education and science. The most remarkable partners in Estonia in this field are Tartu Aviation College and Tallinn Technical University.

The structure of the Estonian Air Force

The Estonian Air Force consists of three units; Air Force Headquarters, the Ämari Air Base and Air Surveillance Wing. The Air Force Headquarters were founded on 13. April 1994 as the highest Air Force Command and Control institution. The main functions of Air Force Headquarter are:

  • Constant enhancement and support of the combat readiness of the allocated units
  • The collection and analysis of current air security and intelligence information
  • The planning of operations, education and training
  • The management of Air Force Command and Control as well as education programs

To guarantee a wide coverage of all necessary fields and the effective preparation of the Air Force Commander's orders, Air Force Headquarter has six departments:

  • Personnel department
  • Department of Operations
  • Logistics department
  • Department of Finance
  • Communication and IT Department
  • Department of Administration

The Air Force Headquarter has the Air Force Command and Control Center included to its structure. The Command and Control Center analyses the Air Force missions, manages the airspace, plans and controls the air defence, air attack and air transport flight operations.

International Co-operation

The host nation support functions involve large variety of the aviation related tasks. Ämari Air Base has new Air Traffic Control tower to conduct the air operations. The acquisition and installation of the new navigation aids and training the Air Traffic Controllers is ongoing process.

Estonian Air Force had more than 80 international co-operational events during 2000. The increase in international co-operation during the 2002 was more than ten percent and the total number of events was more than 90. The most important areas were air traffic management and air defence seminars and education courses. Equally important were the events on command and control, language training, logistics, military doctrine and education related seminars and courses. All international co-operational events gave good results and helped to enhance the Air Force interoperability in wide span of specialties.

There has been going on continuous co-operation with Baltic States within the framework of BALTNET in the Air Surveillance area, which is the one of the highest priority of Estonian Air Force. To educate the air surveillance operators more effectively, the Baltic States combined air surveillance training center was created. The first basic air surveillance course, aimed to the Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian air surveillance operators, started in April of 2002.

The Estonian Air Force has close co-operation with the Scandinavian Countries to enhance the Ämari Air Base operational potential and to develop host nation support capabilities. The most important factors, which determine the international interoperability of Ämari Airfield, are: cargo handling capabilities, airfield maintenance, search and rescue operation and ground support to the aircraft. The closest partners in developing the host nation support capabilities at the Ämari Airfield are Sweden and Denmark. These Scandinavian countries are in the process of closing few airbases and as a result of this, spare airfield and aircraft maintenance equipment become available.

To meet the high standardization requirements, the education and training programs belong inevitably to the acquisition of any sophisticated equipment.

Air Surveillance Wing

One of the goals of the national air surveillance system is the detecting and identifying all flying objects in Estonian airspace.
The primary mission of the unit is the development of the national air surveillance system to the level that allows to detect and identify all flying objects in Estonian airspace with maximal probability and transmit information about their location and movement with sufficient degree of accuracy on 24 hour basis. Current operations are carried out mainly in the framework of international cooperation and BALTNET project.
The main mission of the Air Surveillance Wing, besides the operation of technical systems, will be information processing and collection from radiolocational surveillance systems, interceptor fighters during their patrol flights and from other airspace surveillance sensors.
Structurally is air surveillance subsystem of air defence system.
Air Surveillance Wing was created on 1 January 1998 and is located at the Ämari Air Base.

Active duty service members will receive the required training in the RASCC training center in Republic of Lithuania and in their own unit. The training consists of receiving basic knowledge of air surveillance plus skills and knowledge to operate the ASOC.

Civil co-operation

Air Surveillance Wing is working closely together with Estonian Civil Air Navigation Center (EANS). There is one military liaison workstation in civil air traffic control center in Tallinn manned by the employees of Air Surveillance Wing Air Sovereignty Operations Center, whose task is to exchange information between the Air Sovereignty Operations Center and civil air traffic control.

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General Staff of EDF, Public Affairs Department, +372 717 1190, , Juhkentali 58, 15007, Tallinn, Estonia.   RSS